My eyes are full. And my heart has stored away more images in the ever expanding cache of beauty the Endless Gifts fill. Because my spirit was primed before, our trip to Shepherdstown threw wide the doors of my heart, and tendered my expectant eyes. We return home with no more accolades than with which we left, but now hold a rich experience to look back on for years to come.

Twelve hours, six up and six back, in a metal box on wheels with my three favorite guys, felt like a cocoon with windows. We were cradled in our nuclear family for a time, shed of extraneous concerns, swept close together. There was only us. And the road. And the mountains. And the trees.

Oh, the trees. I have never seen Red Bud so glorious. The newly unfolding leaves on the surrounding trees were the softest of yellow-greens, the perfect complement to the purply-pink cheer of the red bud. At our highest point, Savage Mountain, we crested 2800 feet. Here, the trees were still sleeping, and I marveled at the contrast of their nakedness to the festive wardrobe at lower elevations. The landscape was bleak and harsh until we descended once again into the valleys.

And this dramatic transformation seemed to be the theme of the weekend; for, this weekend I watched as a boy ceased to be a boy. Before my eyes he stepped into the role of young man. As my Teddy walked away from me with the swarm of other math field day participants, it was without a backward glance at his mother. Here he was: strange place, strange people, strange situation…and right in his element. I hovered on the edge of the crowd, feeling that familiar anxiety of being left behind. That fear of separation.

What if he might need me?

I was always there when he was small to smooth away the rough places.

It seems that letting go is one of the rough places for me.

But I did. I let him walk away. Didn’t even make a scene. His joy made it easier. He had earned the right to be proud of himself. I have rarely seen him so silly and giddy. But still, there was a pang. A definite pang.

It reminded me of his first day of kindergarten. I was prepared for tears. I was prepared to shed a few myself. Prepared to peel him off of me like a second skin. But he stalked into the classroom on his short little legs and has never looked back since.

School is Teddy’s thing.

And I have to say, I am a proud mama.

So, the other two “boys” and I roamed the streets of Shepherdstown. And in this beautiful town that boasts itself the oldest in West Virginia, transformation spoke to me everywhere.

Behind an old stone church: a cemetery. The first stone laid in the late 1700s. It whispered the past in my ear, of sadness and sickness and war torn battles. Yet, on the front stoop was a group of college students, doing the things that college students do. Hanging out. Breathing life into this old place.

The original brick buildings, so common because the clay dirt of the area was good for making brick, leered down at us on the main street in their new coats of paint. Transformed into shops and tea rooms. Flower boxes in the windows…Irises intertwined in original ironwork fences.

We passed Trinity Episcopal Church and I fell in love. The red doors surrounded by beautiful stacked stone took my breath away. We took some pictures but I had to go back to take some more. I wanted to go inside. To stand among the pews and imagine the saints who had stood there before me. But when we returned, a wedding party was assembling outside. What had resembled a piece of history in my eyes was alive. Living and breathing in the here and now.

Everywhere, the past and the present mingled. Death and rebirth. Death and rebirth.

I saw the beauty that emerges from the ashes. God held these things out before me. And I felt a peace inside about not only my past, but about where He is taking me.

He is so good.

And as for my Teddy? He is growing up. Transforming into a special young man.

I marvel at this new thing God is doing.

And the gifts go on…

31. Trinity Episcopal Church. Glorious.

32. Stained glass windows.

33. Courtyard gardens in the middle of town.

34. A stone wall built around a late 1700s church with a cemetery


35. St. Peter’s Lutheran church

36. Wrought iron and stone.

37. Beautiful.

38. Uh-huh.

39. An old friend, reacquainted.

40. Babies. Especially SaraAnn–and the way my Jeffrey fell in love with her.

41. These faces.

42. He still lets me hug him in public.

43. Narrow is the gate…

44. My math kid.

45. Being silly.

46. Something for now. Something for later.

For a complete list of posts of the Endless gifts, click here…


  1. says

    When God guides us, He always meets us there! He has been taking you through this transforming journey through your past and to see Him meet in a totally different place so alive and so real like this just reaffirms that God is so intimately close with each one of us. He speaks to where we are and I am filled with joy and excitement to be privileged to share in your journey! Prayers were answered this weekend. Praise His name forever!

  2. says

    Laura, that was a beautiful post! I felt like I was on the trip with you…..I especially loved the flowers and the stained glass….and the wedding! All three of those things in one post makes me feel all “mushy” inside.:)

    God Bless,

    P.S. I love it too when the boys hug me in public…..Thank You, God!:)

  3. says

    What a special trip and such precious memories you made this weekend. Shepherdstown is a beautiful place! I was praying for y’all and couldn’t wait to read what you’d have to share. I’m proud of your son and his achievements. And, yes, it is hard to let go. Boy, I’ve done my share of worrying about my kiddos & God has always taken special care of them when I couldn’t be there. I used to always pray that God would send special people who had wisdom to be there for them when I wasn’t.
    I love all the pictures and I love your little boys’ faces. They are so cute!
    My little boy (27) is still single and if you see the recent post of mine, Kristen & I went over Sun. & helped him clean his new apt. and fix it up. I think for the most part he appreciated us. 🙂 We were trying not to get it too girly. He’s so sweet though. He still hugs me & tells me he loves me (even in public)which is sometimes rare for (grown) “boys.”
    Being a mom is the greatest gift isn’t it?
    I’m so glad you had a wonderful, fun-filled weekend. God is good and He is faithful!
    Love ya,

  4. says

    Laura, I loved this post as I always do. I love how Papa speaks to you through everything around you. I love how you notice Him.

    The pictures were fun to see. It is good to see your face!

    I am glad you had such an awesome weekend. I felt like it would be a good one, that something was going to be special in the midst of the purpose for your going.


  5. says

    Thanks so much for your encouraging words. It helps so much to hear from someone whose been there before. I appreciate your prayers for Day and I more than you can probably know!

    I posted my first comment before you had all the pictures up. They are beautiful! I’ve always loved architecture, but not sure why. The way you describe the old and the new coming together is so perfect.

    Thanks again!

  6. says

    Though the transformation is rough at time, it is sure worth it in the end! Agree? I loved the pictures!! Makes me want to go there! Thank you for sharing!!!

    In His Graces~Pamela

  7. says

    What a joy to read your post about your trip – not only a post about a boy gown up, but a mom who wisely is letting go…if you don’t mind I am going to use some of this post in one of my talks this summer- I am going to add it to my teaching – SECRETS WOVEN IN THE ROBE – a presentation I give on parenting. WIll you give me permission to quote you? Your story is so precious and your words so wise. thanks also for the tour guide and awesome pics of your trip.

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